Iain Jardine has Nakeeta in rude health as the seven-year-old attempts to beat the odds in the 188Bet Chester Cup on the Roodee on Friday.
Burdened with top weight, plus a tough draw from stall 13, Nakeeta looks to have plenty on his plate.
It will be his third crack at this valuable and prestigious long-distance handicap after being narrowly beaten in 2016 and 10th 12 months ago.
His last two runs in 2017 showed Nakeeta had improved into a classy performer. Victory in the Ebor at York in August earned him a place in the Melbourne Cup, in which he was a creditable fifth.
Jardine has given his globe-trotting star plenty of time to recover from his trip to the other side of the world and has been pleased with his preparation.
“He’s in good shape. He’s not got the best draw in the world, but he never has. Even when he was second in the race, he had a terrible draw,” said Jardine.
“He’s there to take his chance, I suppose he’s on the back foot a bit with top weight and a bad draw, but he’s a very good horse and his last piece of work was as good as I’ve seen him, so fingers crossed he’ll go well.
“Melbourne was a while ago now. He’s had time to freshen up and we look forward to a good run.”
Dubawi Fifty has been in good form on the all-weather and trainer Karen McLintock is happy with Silvestre de Sousa’s mount fter a setback caused him to miss an intended engagement recently.
“We had planned to go for a handicap at Musselburgh, but he missed that because of a little setback. He had a little bit of an infection in his lungs,” said the Newcastle trainer.
“After we missed that, we thought we would have a go here. For a big horse, he’s quite well balanced. He’s been around the bends at Wolverhampton OK and I was quite pleased with him.
“His draw (10) could have been worse. I think we just have to work with it. I wouldn’t want to see too much rain, good to soft or good ground would be ideal.
“This horse just keeps finding and we’re very lucky to have him in a yard of our size.”
Philip Kirby is looking to the skies for some luck with Stargazer, who finished a neck and one place ahead of Dubawi Fifty when runner-up to American Gigolo at Newcastle on his first start since being bought out of Sir Michael Stoute’s stable for 8,000 guineas at last year’s Tattersalls Autumn Sales.
That was a fine effort considering it was his first outing for 563 days.
Stargazer followed that up 10 days later back at the Gosforth Park track and though he finished first past the post by a nose from Island Brave, he was demoted to second spot after a stewards’ inquiry.
“Everything has gone perfect. The ground should be grand, he’s got a good draw and he’s been working well,” said the North Yorkshire handler. “Fingers crossed he’ll get a bit of a luck and he’ll run a big race.”
Ardent Chester supporter Dr Marwan Koukash has enjoyed success in this race with Address Unknown (in 2013) and Suegioo (2014) and is hoping lightning will strike a third time with Magic Circle.
Fifth 12 months ago when trained by Ralph Beckett, Magic Circle changed hands for 70,000 guineas at Tattersalls and will carry the colours of the enthusiastic owner for the first time.
“Last year he was drawn 18 and still finished a commendable fifth,” Dr Koukash told Racing UK.
“We have got the draw in six, he’s in decent form – every time I text Ian Williams to ask him how he is doing, he gives me the thumbs up sign in his text back.
“He’s been working very well at home and the draw is good for him this year, so hopefully he will run a big race.”
Who Dares Wins was three-quarters of a length ahead of Magic Circle when fourth in 2017, but Alan King’s charge has not been lucky with the draw.
“Who Dares Wins has been a star for Henry (Ponsonby) and his team under both codes, and this race has been his target for some time now,” the Barbury Castle trainer told www.alankingracing.com.
“He was only beaten a length and a half into fourth last year, despite being checked in his run inside the final furlong.
“But, though we have Ryan Moore on our side for the first time, Who Dares Wins is 8lb higher than 12 months ago and is drawn 15 as against seven last year, so we’ll also need ‘lady luck’ with us.”